Coming into the 2015-2016 season, Louisville senior Kelsi Worrell already held school records in the 50 free, 100 free, 200 free, 100 fly, 200 fly, and was a part of the school-record holding 200 medley, 400 medley, 200 free, and 400 free relays.
On Saturday, in a late-October dual meet against Cincinnati, she added a 10th record by swimming a 52.69. That pushes her over 50% of the women’s swimming records tracked by Louisville, with 10 out of 19 having at least a partial Worrell stamp upon it.
The overall depth of the Louisville backstroke group has been a concern for a few years, which resulted in Tanja Kylliainen, an IM’er/200 butterflier/200 backstroker, leading off the team’s 400 medley relay at NCAA’s last year. In that swim, she broke the school record (a 52.89, which Worrell lowered on Saturday), and that might be a clue to why the Louisville senior is swimming this race, rather than the 100 fly, early in the season.
Besides showing that she’s relevant on the national stage in long course over the summer, Worrell may very well be gearing up to lead off the Cardinals’ medley relay at NCAA’s. Worrell is already a full second faster than the Cardinals’ fastest returning 100 backstroker swam last season (then-freshman Hannah Magnuson, who was a 53.75).
That, combined with the emergence already of rookie Mallory Comerford, who left an impression with a 54.3 in the 100 fly at the team’s opening intrasquad meet.
Of course, Worrell could very well shoot for the 100 fly/100 back double. She’s the fastest swimmer in history in the 100 yard butterfly, and the only swimmer who seems like she might be able to challenge Worrell this year is Cal junior Farida Osman. Osman doesn’t have the pressure of a three-taper summer for the Olympics between NCAA’s, an Olympic Trials meet, and the Olympics, as she represents Egypt internationally, but the 100 back also comes after the 100 fly in the day 3* event schedule at NCAA’s, so there’s only a minor risk for Worrell of adding another event.
*Editor’s note: remember, it’s a 4-day meet now.
Then again, it could just be a way to work on underwaters, or perhaps experiment with a Lochte-esque turn of some kind.
Either way, it’s fun to watch one of the NCAA’s best show off her range and put some charge into the early season.